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Subject: Viceroys! I bet you have copy that you've never played. rss

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Graham Lockwood
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Viceroys! is a game of the exploration, colonization and conquest of the world by the major powers of Europe in the age of Discovery. Up to seven players compete to explore, exploit and conquer the post-Renaissance world.
Economic and military competition, political treachery and the race for discoveries are just part of this highly interactive game.

.....So runs the opening couple of paragraphs from the rule book, and as per most Lockwood reviews, a lengthy dissertation follows to see if it lives up to its' claim.........

The Components:
The game consists of an antique style map taken from the Dutch cartographer Willem Blaue drawn in 1636. Although a fairly pleasing rendition, the graphic execution of this facsimile by Kevin Zucker leaves a lot to be desired. The result is that it is hard to discern the various sub-divisions and markings on the map. The map is divided into a grid of boxes determined by latitude and longitude. Each players' nation has a home box where newly bought units are placed, from there they may then be moved via adjacent boxes horizontally, vertically and diagonally.
The counters are standard wargaming style, typical of a game from the mid 1980's. Although small and fiddly, by today's standards, they are, however, reasonably functional. The counters consist of navies, leaders and colonists in each player colour, and a set of generic armies, forts and citadels of a neutral colour that are placed under a players' marker to show ownership. Completing the counter set are a sizable number of discovery chits that are drawn when a player explores, a set of victory chits and a few other essential markers.
Next is a deck of 96 cards that consist of 'personality' cards and events that can help or hinder any player. These are used to add spice to the whole proceedings and work well within the game. Also there are a set of cards to mark the various player nations involved in exploration and each has a slightly differing advantage/disadvantage in the various aspects of the game. Lastly, there are a set of 'office' cards that require each player to undertake small tasks in book-keeping during the game for a small remuneration and a few player help sheets that distil the essential rules of the game and mark the economic progress of each player.
The rulebook is well laid out and provides plenty of information for playing the game. It consists of four sections; introduction and turn sequence, detailed rules explanation and scenarios with examples of play.

The object of the game:
Each player strives to collect the most victory points by the end of the game, which may be based on turns, time taken or 'sudden death' conditions as the players may devise for themselves. This is very helpful for players determining how the session of Viceroys! will conclude, although the designer (Mark McLaughlin) does suggest that at least five turns be played in order for the game to fully get underway.
Victory points are tallied at the conclusion of the game. These consist of scores for 'discoveries' (collecting scoring chits for being the first player to discover, colonize and perform various relevant exploration feats within each region of the map), having the most (or only) colonies within a region, having a presence in as many regions as possible and scores for each colony a player builds. In addition, there are five victory points up for grabs each turn for the player that ships the most valuable cargo back to his home capital.

The Turn Sequence:
1. Diplomacy (simultaneous).
Here, players may trade cards, crowns (the coinage of the game) or really anything they wish to. They may simply wish to make a 'gentlemen's agreement' (which may be broken without penalty) or draw up a formal agreement (in which case a 5 victory point penalty goes against the player breaking the agreement) in the case of treaties and the like.

2. Random events.
From the second game turn onwards, 2d6 are rolled against a table of events (11-66), which generally will provide an adverse game condition for the upcoming turn for a randomly selected player or no event. These rolls become more numerous as the game progresses.

3. Cards.
Each player is dealt a single card from the deck. Each player may then spend various amounts of crowns to purchase further cards from the deck. The more purchased, the more expensive they become. Some cards may also be played during this part of the turn sequence, and all cards are marked as to which part of the turn they may be played in. There is a hand limit of four cards at the end of this phase. The number of cards in play (already played face up) is not limited.

4. Builds (simultaneous - called the 'crown' phase in the rulebook).
Each player decides if he wishes to introduce new units on to the mapboard via his home capital box. Each type of unit has a standard associated cost. A player may build navies, soldiery, colonists, leaders or fortifications generally for shipping overseas.

5. Movement (sequential by chit pull for each exploring nation).
This is the most important part of the turn. It is here where a player will discover and expand his overseas empire. Navies are crucial here, since soldiers, leaders and colonists can't be moved without them. Leaders (only) may guide colonists and/or soldiers to discover the interior of the various overseas areas, but it's hard going at one box per turn.
Discovery.
So, you've loaded up a couple of naval units with soldiers and colonists, what happens when they find an un-explored coastline? Ok, first they roll 2d6 to see if they sight land. Depending on the roll the, expedition may perish, get lost (and have to try again on the next turn), suffer an expedition disaster (loosing a unit that is participating in the expedition, but still being successful in discovery if there are still other units in then expedition left) and lastly, being automatically successful on a roll of 8+. There can be modifications (good and bad) to just about all of the dice rolls involved in the various game requirements either via card play or by meeting certain criteria. For instance, you get advantageous modifications to discovery dice rolls if you are the Portuguese player (the designer considers them to have superior seamanship, cartography and exploration skills), similarly, having already explored the same continent previously will do likewise. So, after rolling an eight or better and hearing the cry "Land ho!", what happens next?
Exploration.
Well, if you are the first player to set foot in that area of the world, you will take a victory point award chit to help you on your way to win the game and take 1d6 worth of crowns for your trouble (representing post publication of your stupendous find). Now, the game rules force you to explore this dark continent by taking an exploration chit from the opaque cup holding quite an array of finds. These may hold nothing at all (barren) to an advanced native civilization (Incas or similar) with everything in between (gold and silver mines, native kingdoms, silks, tea, spices, tobacco, slaves, and all manner of similar things). There is a neat game routine that allows a bias in what may be found depending on the area of the world explored. For instance, a player exploring the civilized part of Asia will take three chits from the cup and keep the highest valued one, throwing the other ones back.
Colonization.
Now comes the tricky bit. Shall we colonize or loot? Your party has found a site worth colonizing because it has a decent commercial return (ie. goods valued at whatever number is printed on the exploration chit have the potential to be shipped home). How shall we colonize it, sir? Well, lad, you need some colonists. You did bring some with you, didn't you? Oh, and some soldiers and leader will help in case the natives resent you setting foot on their turf. So, out come the faithful 2d6 for yet another roll. This time, for colonization to automatically succeed, a very large dice roll is needed (11 or more!). More likely, you will either roll 'colonization fails' (try again with some more colonists), 'natives attack' (fight 'em), 'local chief demands bribe' (give him some beads and hope it placates him, otherwise see 'natives attack'). If it all turns pear shaped and you have to fight, then your superior civilized fighting machine should see them off. However, the number of native armies raised will be 1d6. Also a modification table will add or subtract to this dice roll (they will tenaciously resist you taking over their gold mines, or alternatively not turn up in numbers to protect a tea plantation worth one crown a turn - get the idea?). Now what?
Production.
If your ships have enough movement left, then goods may be shipped home. A colony is allowed to produce each turn, but only if one of your leaders is present or ships can reach them that turn to collect. The production value is recorded for that particular ship as being crowns carried. There is also provision for leaders to be able to collect on behalf of the state and is recorded in a similar fashion. This is helpful when a navy can't get there in time or for bribing native leaders or local pirates. Of course, your bountiful navies will need to get back to your capital in order for them to unload their crowns into your national coffers. Well, that's if no other player or local natives attack and take over your colonies, pirates raid your ships, or some smarty plays a card that throws your ships onto a local reef during a storm. Also, to complicate matters, a cumulative tally must be kept of all crowns unloaded by all nations in play each turn, since after a threshold of 500 crowns is reached inflation kicks in and costs for builds are doubled. Similarly, when 1000cr is reached, costs are tripled.


6. Taxation (simultaneous).
At the conclusion of each players turn, taxes are raised to help with ongoing exploration expenses at a standard amount. This amount may be varied each turn by up to 50%. Great! What's the catch? Well, you have to roll better than the percentage increase you nominate (divided by 10) on 1d6 to get it, otherwise that same percentage is subtracted from your tax income instead.

7. Next turn.
....and away we go again, unless it's the final game turn. In which case, victory points are tallied up for colonies, award chits and other bits and pieces and the nation with the most, of course, wins the game.

Conclusion.
Ok. Now, my opinion of the game. It's a nice game worth playing, and it simulates the subject rather well. It has typically, a lot of random generation via tabulated and heavily modified dice rolls. This is to be expected for the adventure of exploration during this period. However, these days, card draws would be more de rigueur with multiple game effects on each card (a la Combat Commander). The game is also (typically) luck dependant. However, this does not prevent a player from developing a sound strategy or tactics to negate the vagrancies of the dice rolls. I hold the belief that the randomness is not unlike that experienced by the exploring nations during the age depicted.
There are also some obviously 'old fashioned' game routines that can easily be modified. Having to have a written spreadsheet to record what crowns each ship carries is a pain (especially if you are a pirate). I have negated this chore by designing player nation mats with each ship & leader icon on it, and use coins from another game to place on those icons. There are also some superfluous additions to the game. I don't use the 'office' cards, or the inflation rules as I feel that they unnecessarily complicate the game. For those who can't resist a complicated game, Mr.McLaughlin includes optional rules for roll-playing the leaders and for the conduct of non-player nations.

All in all, the game lives up to it's claims as observed in the opening paragraph.


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E Butler
United States
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Viceroys! I bet you have copy that you've never played.


Wow, in fact I do have a copy of Viceroys I've never played!
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Graham Lockwood
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...thought so.



I had my second hand copy (purchased at a local convention) for nearly two years before I took a serious look and finaly played it.
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Darrell Hanning
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Played this game a number of times when I bought it, about twenty years ago. It was a nice change of pace from Conquistador, as it covered Africa and Asia, too, not just the New World.
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Brad Johnson
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promuso wrote:

...thought so.



I had my second hand copy (purchased at a local convention) for nearly two years before I took a serious look and finaly played it.


Ditto - mine even has the expansion in it. Bought as a bundle second-hand at WBC, unpunched. Still unpunched 2 yrs later, although I'm not sure why....
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Aaron Cappocchi
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Viceroys! I bet you have copy that you've never played.

I had one for a decade - bought for $3 at a flea market, and warped with water damage. I think I finally threw it away unplayed. soblue I needed the space.
 
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David Valenze
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I have both this and the Columbus expansion I picked up in trade a while back. I have played solo a couple of times.
 
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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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Viceroys! I bet you have copy that you've never played.

Guilty. But I do remember having it all set up on my desk for a week or so, maybe 20 years back!
 
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Wulf Corbett
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Viceroys! I bet you have copy that you've never played.

I traded for mine a few months back here on BGG...


... and, yes, there it sits I do like the look of it, I may at least put it out on the table.
 
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WAN CHIU
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Just snatched a copy off ebay a few days ago. Thanks for the review!!

Yea I probably won't ever get it on the table either.

 
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Graham Lockwood
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...c'mon lads, thats not the spirit that made our countries great! Break out & read those rules, punch those counters, lift that barge, tote that bale, you get a little drunk and you land in jail....sorry, got carried away a bit there.

It plays just as well with two as it does with seven....although there is a fair bit of downtime when seven play. This is specialy true during advanced turns of the game when each player has a lot of units to move about. We played it with four players for five turns in an evening.

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Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
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Plays well with two? Sold! I have tried to get my group to play, but they always have turned it down. Right: on the list it goes.
 
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Bartow Riggs
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I have a copy somewhere I think. I've played it about 4 times 20+ years ago.

I distinctly remember I liked Viceroys much better than Conquistador.
 
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Christian Beijner
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Ahh. The memories. This game and Holy Roman Empire was the two favourite games of my group long ago. Then came World in flames and Empires in arms, my grouo was consumed by one hundred the playing time for only twive the fun. Sigh. I do have a copy on a shelf, but it's been well played. I even made player aids for it.
 
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David G. Cox Esq.
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I also had a copy for many years. Its components were carefully cut and and corners clipped. It was set up and fiddled with.

However, it was never actually played - I didn't like the rules and thought that it sounded awfully complex.

I'm fairly sure I sold it - I wouldn't have had the audacity to give it to a friend and risk losing them.

 
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Graham Lockwood
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...I would have been most happy to (a) be called a friend and (b) to have received this game as a gift from you.

 
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David G. Cox Esq.
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promuso wrote:

...I would have been most happy to (a) be called a friend and (b) to have received this game as a gift from you.



If only I had known.
 
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Mike Smith
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I do have a copy that I have never played, but I also have another copy that I have played! Its a great game, and not very complex in actual practice. I did the maps in the images section that give you a clear and well-defined surface to play on, as opposed to the nightmare of the original map.
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Jason Johns
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Viceroys! I bet you have copy that you've never played"

Well, only PARTIALLY true. I have run it out a bit solo... Does that count???

Looking back over your review (Very good review, BTW), this game did have some pretty cool stuff in it. I wonder about making a Cyberboard for it. That would really help to get people to play it.

Is there any work on that? I can modify a CB file, but an not all that good with initiating one. Just a thought.
 
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David Valenze
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Yes, it is in the Files section.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/filepage/20877/viceroys-gbx
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Captain Nemo
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Never had a copy but played it once about 25 years ago. Clever design but whereas it took the Spanish player 30 minutes to do a turn because there was so much for him to do, those of us with lesser countries (I played as the Turks) needed about 5 minutes. Two players went on my PC and played a computer game in their downtime. It never got put on the table again and I have no idea what the owner (one of those who was on the PC) did with it but I never saw it in his games stack thereafter. Nicknamed as VICEBOYS as players sort something to do to idle away the waiting time.
 
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Eric Lai
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I liked it. Good game, has a few unnecessary elements, I don't mind some randomness, its quite thematic randomness, plays great solo, nice map (even my wife likes it, though I wouldn't want to play it with her, as it will probably turn her off boardgames for life! She is a very light gamer.)

If you have it on a shelf, take it down and take it for a spin, its not that bad. For solo play, I liked it better than Conquistador.

For multi-player, I would rather play struggle of empires instead of these old games with old mechanics. But solo the complexity is fine and there is no down time which is a many flaw in many of these old games.

The first section of the rule book about the roles each player plays is hilarious (I ignored this section of rules in actual game play). One guy gets to be a banker, master, weapon guy, event guy, each of these has a role to play in the game like the banker handles the banking, weapon guy handles handing out units, etc... The funniest thing is the role of Rules Lawyer!!!!! YES THAT IS IN THE RULES! if you have a dispute, it is this play that decides on the final course of action! (certainly gives one confidence in the rule book.... NOT!@!!!)

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Blake Phillips
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Went out of my way to trade for a copy. Playing through my first solo games now. Quit enjoying it.
 
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Jason Johns
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promuso wrote:

Viceroys! is a game of the exploration, colonization and conquest of the world by the major powers of Europe in the age of Discovery. {snip}


Well, you've prompted me to try this again. With the Cyberboard, I think I'll give it a whirl with a couple of my nephews.
 
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Damo
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agentzen wrote:
Viceroys! I bet you have copy that you've never played.

I had one for a decade - bought for $3 at a flea market, and warped with water damage. I think I finally threw it away unplayed. soblue I needed the space.


You threw a game away without offering it here ont he BGGeek?

Shame on you!
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